Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana
) is a perennial, deciduous, woody, thicket-forming large erect shrub or small tree. It has dark green, glossy leaves that are oval to broadly elliptical in shape with toothed margins. They are arranged alternatively and turn yellow during the autumn season. P. virginiana
initially has gray to reddish brown bark which as it ages, turns darker into a brownish-black color. In the spring, it produces aromatic flowers from April to July. A couple months after blossoming, it develops dark red to black colored sperical drupes of berries.
All parts of P. virginiana
contain amygdalin and prunasin, which are cyanogenic glycosides. Horses only need to ingest a small amount of P. virginiana
to be poisoned. The toxicity increases if leaves are damaged or stressed from frost, storms, drought or seasonal wilting. Consumption of 0.25% of the horse's weight (2.5 lb for a 1000-lb horse) of fresh green leaves can be fatal.